Goodbye, Caps Lock.

Here’s some good news from the technology front: the good folks at Google who developed the new CR48 notebook computer omitted the Caps Lock key from the keyboard. If this innovation catches on, YOU WON’T EVER HAVE TO READ JUNK THAT LOOKS LIKE THIS.

For an old rant against the Caps Lock key, read this November 2006 post.

Hat tip @GRAMMARHULK, who will miss the Caps Lock key.

Your computer is not an Underwood typewriter. So stop putting two spaces after every sentence.

Underwood Sometimes I’m surprised at how tightly some otherwise clear-thinking people cling to what they learned in high-school typing class. When I took typing in high school, 37 years ago, I was taught to hit the space bar twice after each sentence. That was a good lesson back then, because I was typing on an Underwood manual typewriter, a machine incapable of producing anything in a proportionately spaced font.

Today, if you’re reading this blog post, then you probably write on a computer, not an Underwood typewriter. And unless you’re perverse enough to have set the default font in your word-processing software to Courier, everything you write on your computer is written in a proportionately spaced font. This fact makes the two-spaces rule obsolete. Once space after each sentence is enough.

Recently John McIntyre wrote about this; the flak he caught prompted him to write two follow-up posts (here and here). Me, I’m left wondering why anyone who cares deeply about getting their writing right would be so unwilling to re-examine what they learned in high school.

My prior blog posts on this should-be-uncontroversial topic are here, here, here, and here.

(Photo credit.)

Some worthwhile web sightings on legal writing

Here are some recent blog posts worth checking out:

The right tool for the job

Here is an article I wrote for the Winter 2008 issue of Certworthy about selecting the right font for a writing project. The skinny version:

  • For text in briefs, use a book-like font such as Book Antiqua, Bookman Old Style, Century, Century Schoolbook, or Palatino.
  • For headings in briefs, use a bold sans-serif font such as Arial or Verdana.
  • For e-mail and other documents intended for on-screen reading, use Georgia (for serifs) or Verdana (for sans serif).
  • For drafts, use Courier. (That’s right. Courier.) After at least one pass editing in Courier, convert the document to it’s its final-form font. Then edit again.

How to type a non-breaking space

Let’s say your memorandum cites 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Let’s say the citation occurs near the end of a line, so that the § is at the end of one line and the 1331 is at the beginning of the next. How do you keep the two together on the same line with a space in between?

Answer: You type a non-breaking space, also known as a hard space or a fixed space. A non-breaking space prevents an automatic line break at its location.

Web-page coders create a non-breaking space by typing the HTML code “ ”. That doesn’t help you if you’re writing your memorandum in Word. But this tip will: To type a non-breaking space, just hold the CTRL and SHIFT keys down while pressing the space bar once.

A similar trick works for typing a non-breaking hyphen: hold the CTRL and SHIFT keys down while pressing the hyphen key.